Local Service Ads (LSA) Are Your Best Ad Choice
In this post, I present a case study showing the cost per lead differences between 3 different LSA legal niches. And I also compare the cost differences between LSA and the more traditional Google Ads (PPC).
Our case study covers 3 different legal fields - Immigration, Personal Injury, and Criminal. And in every case, LSA produces lower cost per lead by up to a 10x compared to Google Ads! (a related post here on personal injury attorney SEO).
But first, some background information on LSA ads if you're not too familiar with them.
What Are Google (LSA)?
LSA (also sometimes referred to as Google Screened Ads) are Google ads are a relatively new ad product from Google that appear at the very top of a Google Search Results Page above all other Google results. LSA also appear above Google pay-per-click ads.
Here's an example that shows 3 LSA at the top of the page - the LSA show first, then Google Ads (PPC), then the non-paid organic results.
To be eligible to show for LSA you have to submit an application to Google and pass its background checks. For attorneys, Google wants to see your licensing, how long you have been in business, etc.
Keep in mind, however, you do have to be licensed in the state your ads show so you will not be able to run ads if you or someone in your firm is not licensed in that particular state and added to your LSA account. The approval process can take up to 2 weeks or more after you submit everything to Google. But once your account is approved, your ads will show with the Google Screened badge.
When someone clicks on your LSA ad, they go to your LSA page in Google, not your website. Your LSA page has more information about your firm and contact information. Leads can call you or message you from the LSA ads directly and you have a permanent record of all the leads.
Google is keeping this traffic on your Google LSA page and not sending it through to your site.
How and When Do My LSA Show?
LSA for attorneys are eligible to show in Google search results once you are approved. How often you show and when you show is partly based on your bidding and budgeting, among other factors.
LSA are eligible to show when someone types a query into Google using keywords, such as, Immigration Attorney Near Me, Personal Injury Attorney Near Me, or Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me. This is similar to how the more common Google Ads (PPC) are triggered to show in a search result to users, but that's the only similarity between the two Google ad products.
Not Keywords, Job Types
Unlike Google Ads, LSA are set up by predetermined legal categories (i.e. Immigration, Criminal, Personal Injury, etc) that you choose and then sub-specialties (referred to as Job Types), but not by keywords as is the case with the more common Google Ads. See below screenshots.
Your LSA ad competes with the other attorneys that are bidding for those law categories and specialties as well. But your LSA ad does not compete with the typical Google Ads (i.e. Google PPC) which show below LSA ads.
Immigration Attorney LSA Job Types
Below is an example of the 11 Job Types within the Immigration attorney category that you can target. Each Job Type can be toggled on or off:
Personal Injury Attorney LSA Job Types
Criminal Defense Attorney LSA Job Types
Are LSA More Effective Than Google Ads/PPC?
In many situations, if your goal is only leads, LSA can be a more effective strategy than Google Ads. LSA are strictly bottom of the funnel lead generation - meaning people that typically need help now. And we have seen LSA that produce leads that cost up to 10x less than a Google Ads (PPC) campaign.
But with LSA, you are not advertising mid-funnel or upper funnel, there's no branding - meaning you are not advertising to people that are further away from converting to a lead right now. So with LSA there's no retargeting, no Display Ads, no YouTube ads, just search targeting for leads that are bottom-of-the-funnel.
What Makes LSA Ads Effective At Lead Generation?
- 1LSA owns the real estate at the top of search results page and thus all the attention of searchers
- 2LSA are cost per lead, NOT cost-per-click (CPC)
- 3Cost per lead with LSA ads is often less than even the CPC in Google Ads
- 4Significantly lower cost per lead compared to Google Ads (PPC)
And if a lead was not valid, for example, it was for the wrong category of legal services or job type, or it was a sales call, you can contest the lead and ask Google for a refund. Google records all the calls so there's a history of what the person is looking for. Google seems reasonable when contesting illegitimate or incorrect leads and credits you - typically the next billing cycle.
As a side note, we have found that the Google Ads (PPC) cost-per-click for many search terms goes up by 30% - 50% or more when LSA ads show. Google is cannibalizing it's own PPC ads with LSA.
LSA Cost Per Lead For 3 Different Law Services
The below bar chart shows the cost per lead results for 3 different attorney categories: Immigration, Criminal, and Personal Injury.
Cost Per Lead (CPL) Comparison : LSA vs Google Ads
To make this comparison simpler between LSA and Google Ads, let's look at the CPC (cost-per-click) for Google Ads and then estimate a reasonable website conversion rate for click traffic.
CPC & CPL For Immigration Attorney Keywords in Google Ads
For Google Ads, the CPC for immigration keywords ranges from $13 - $20 per click.
To get a conversion and an actual customer, it's reasonable to assume perhaps 10% of that click traffic will convert to a lead (your mileage will of course vary, but that's a reasonable conversion rate to use). So if your website is converting 10% of its traffic then your cost per lead (CPL) from Google Ads would cost approximately $130 - $200.
LSA CPL for Immigration Attorneys
Now compare the Google Ads CPL above to that of LSA cost-per-lead (CPL) below. In the below table, we captured 208 leads in 1 month at an average cost of $31 per Immigration lead! That is a 6x or 7x difference in cost per leads by using LSA!
Immigration Attorney Services CPL Comparison: LSA vs Google Ads
CPC & CPL For Criminal Defense Attorney Keywords in Google Ads
In Google Ads, the CPC for criminal defense words costs between $53 and $75 per click.
To get an actual criminal defense customer, we assume 10% of that click traffic converts to a lead so your CPL from Google Ads would cost approximately $530 - $750. Compared to immigration, we can see as the space becomes more competitive so do the leads.
LSA CPL for Criminal Defense Attorneys
Now compare the Google Ads CPL for criminal defense attorney keywords above to that of LSA CPL below.
In the below table, we captured 42 leads in 1 month at an average cost of $111 per criminal defense lead! That is a 5x or 7x lower cost difference per lead by using LSA versus Google Ads.
Criminal Defense Attorney Services CPL Comparison: LSA vs Google Ads
CPC & CPL For Personal Injury Attorney Keywords in Google Ads
In Google Ads, the CPC for Personal Injury keywords costs between $195 and $300 per click (more than that if you are chasing "car accident" phrases).
To get an actual personal injury customer, we assume 10% of that click traffic converts to a lead so your CPL from Google Ads would cost approximately $2000 - $3000 per lead.
LSA CPL for Personal Injury Attorneys
Now compare the Google Ads CPL for personal injury keywords above to that of LSA CPL below.
In the below table, we captured 22 leads in 1 month at an average cost of $229 per personal injury lead! That is a 10x or more difference in cost per leads by using LSA versus Google Ads.
Personal Injury Attorney Services CPL Comparison: LSA vs Google Ads
So wrapping this up, LSA ads from Google are a far better option in most cases to generate qualified leads for attorneys. Your mileage will vary based on variables such as the your legal niche (i.e. Immigration, Personal Injury, Criminal, Family, etc), competition in your local market, your budget and more. But it's clear that these ads deliver far more economic value versus Google Ads for attorneys.
Google Ads are still useful, of course, but if your budget is limited and your primary goal is only leads then LSA might be a good option for you. But depending on the legal niche, your geotargeting, and other variables it can be challenging to produce the volume of leads you may need.